Wednesday 4 October 2023

Lorraine Village Bases

Despite a little side job of improving some laser-cut Wild West buildings, the Lorraine project lumbers onwards. I've now made a large batch of village bases, which you see below. These are based on pieces of felt and so are flexible, in the same way as the previous wood bases and road sections, so they go on hills and slopes. 

These pieces may not exactly look imposing on their own, but they are designed very carefully for my gaming needs. They're also exact to the groundscale of my rules (1" to 100 metres), and show in (only slightly simplified) form the actual ground areas of villages in Lorraine. Specifically they are based on the settlements which featured in the battle of Colombey-Nouilly in 1870. There were a lot of small villages on that battlefield, over twenty in fact, and this is common in many of the densely-populated areas where the FPW was fought.

This what the bases look like. Construction started with pieces of brown felt (thought the starting colour doesn't matter really), textured with thinned PVA and fine sand. Once dry they got a solid coat of dark brown and then two lighter drybrushes. Actually it's not strictly brown but something slightly grey-er;  camel colour, I would call it. This represents bare earth suitably, but needs to be brightened up with semi-random patches of static grass. In this case I didn't want the grass to be long or particularly standing up, as I want buildings and figure bases to sit flat on the village base. So the mega-grass applicator stayed on the shelf and the grass is just stuck on with slightly-thinned tacky glue, which holds a a denser coat of grass than standard PVA. I used quite short static grass, pile it on very thickly and press it down with my hand, then once dry brush it off with quite a stiff brush. Finally it's drybrushed yellow-green.  

This is close to the finished village look, though we still have freestanding sections of walling to come. Buildings and other bits and pieces will actually cover most of these bases. Larger bases will have several buildings on them, perhaps including a church or whatever. As well as the earth and grass texture, there are areas on the bases which suggest vegetables or flowers being cultivated. They are just spots of tacky glue, with my dyed granulated cork "leaf" material pressed onto them. 

Here's why I use felt for various terrain bases rather than somthing rigid. The felt will bend between your fingers so as to conform to hills and slopes. And it stays that shape until you bend it straight again when putting the terrain away at the end of a game. It is never going to break or anything.

Here's how these bases work in game terms. The Prussian regiment fits (near enough) onto the village base, so placed along the edge, "defending" it. The figure bases and village base integrate nicely. The house can just be moved back a bit so that we are still seeing a "village". But the felt base defines the footprint of the village in game terms. And because there are no fixed walls, etc, it's easy to place that wargames unit whose move places it part-way through a village area, even diagonally.

Here's the whole set of village bases, thirty-five in all. Because they are quite quick to make I thought I'd just do "plenty" rather than trying to work out exactly how many might be needed. Most of the village bases are quite small but some equate to the ground area of towns or the outskirts of a city. Of course bases can be placed adjacent, or even overlapped at a pinch, so any configuration should be possible.